The International Federation of Journalists and its regional group, the European Federation of Journalists, representing more than 200.000 journalists in 35 countries, regrets that the German Copyright Contract Law has finally been watered down. "The adoption of the bill in the German Bundestag today is a clear sign that politicians failed in standing up against the powerful publishers" said Aidan White, General Secretary of the IFJ.
After the adoption of this soft version of the German Contract Law it is evident that the months' long struggle for better authors' rights, the voices of the creators were heard and their arguments proved to be the better ones. But the economic power of the publishing houses and the way they used and abused it during their campaign has given way to a version of the bill that improves the situation of creators only slightly, but certainly not as extensively as they initially hoped.
"In this dispute, Goliath has won" says Aidan White," and the victory cost the publishers a lot of effort: they invested millions of Euro in a campaign that mainly aimed at creating unfounded fear amongst the consumers and lobbied the regional and federal government intensively. This campaign is the best evidence for the imbalance of powers between publishers and creators."
Journalists' unions all over Europe are particularly anxious to ensure that their freelance and staff members can negotiate extra payments when their work is used in new electronic forms such as the Internet or on digital databases and that the moral rights of the author are not at risk. Although the initially very ambitious German project has been watered down, the copyright contract law can still serve as a good example for other European countries where moral rights are practically non-existent. The IFJ hopes that the lively discussion that publishers and creators have lead in Germany during the past months will continue and that they will work on ever improved solutions for the information age.
"Copyright is not only the legal key to creativity, but also the basis of high quality journalism" says White, who is also the General Secretary of the IFJ's regional organization, the European Federation of Journalists. " Journalists all over Europe will share the disappointment about the adoption of this law and its failure to set the highest standards for Germany and Europe as a whole."